What is the importance of cattle in leather industry and fertilizers?
Leather finds a number of uses in various fields. Footwear, clothing, purses, belts are all made of leather. Leather is obtained from animals and is then processed before being fashioned into various kinds of goods. Leather industry is also called tanning industry because it is here that the raw skin obtained from animals is "prepared" so that it could be used for various purposes.
Among animals which provide hide (skin) for leather industry livestock are most important. Cattle and buffaloe skin is the principle source of leather supply. The skin of cow is called kips and that of the buffaloe is known as buff.
In tannaries, the raw skin obtained from animals is processed following various steps such as flaying, curing, salting and tanning. The tanning process is a very complicated process and involves three main steps. These are the pre-tanning, tanning and post-tanning. The pre-tanning process itself involves a number of steps like soaking, liming, unhairing, fleshing, deliming and pickling.
The tanning process involves treating the skin with organic, inorganic and synthetic tanning agents. Basically there are three types in tanning. These are vegetable tanning, chrome tanning and oil tanning. In the post tanning step the skin is subjected to a number of mechanical, physical and chemical treatments.
The population of cattle in India is one of the highest in the world and hence no wonder India is one of the leading suppliers of leather goods to the world market. In order to improve the quality of the leather researches are going on and there is an Institute for this purpose- Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) at Madras. Tannaries are also present in Karnataka - Mysore Chrome Tannaries, Bangalore. In our state Athani and towns nearby are very famous for producing quality footwear. Kanpur in North India is also very famous for the manufacture of leather goods.
The Indian livestock produce an enormous amount of dung which can be put into proper use for the purpose of harnessing energy. The dung of cattle undergoes putrefaction in the normal course by decaying bacteria and releases a gas. Researches have shown that this gas can be used for the same purposes as natural gas.
Popularly called gobar gas or biogas, the gas obtained from the dung of cattle can virtually create an energy revolution in rural India. An estimate shows that the average annual production of cattle dung in our country exceeds 1,500 million tonnes. Even if a small quantity of this is used for the purpose of biogas production it will solve the entire energy problem of rural India. In the production of biogas, the cattle dung, urine and some of the agricultural wastes are put into huge tanks built for this purpose along with some quantity of water.
Bacteria normally present in these wastes bring about putrefaction and release the gas which can be supplied through pipes. The biogas can be used as a cooking fuel and it also can be used for the purpose of lighting. Biogas plants can be built on different sizes depending on the requirement and the availability of animal dung and plant wastes. Even a single family with 40-50 kgs of daily production of cow dung can have a small gobar gas plant which will supply all their daily fuel and lighting requirements.
Use of biogas also has an indirect benefit in that it protects the forests which should have otherwise been cut to provide fuel wood.
Fertilizers are of two types chemical fertilizers and organic fertilizers. Even though chemical fertilizers have a targeting effect such as providing a particular kind of nutrient, they are very costly and many a time they may have some bad effects on the plants also. On the other hand organic fertilizers commonly called organic manure or farm yard manure absolutely have no bad effects on plants. Besides, they are very cheap in the sense every farmer can produce manure himself in his backyard. In the production of farmyard manure the role of cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goat and fowls play a very important role.
The excrement of these animals is a very rich source of nitrogenous materials. Usually in the farm yard a pit is dug into which all the animal dung and plant wastes are dumped. In course of time due to the activity of bacteria and also earth worms the whole thing gets converted into very rich manure called compost. The cattle dung, even after the production of biogas can be used as manure.